10 June 2014
by Pete Long
We live in an era of post-[suffix] genres. Tombs, the Brooklyn four-piece that made a name for themselves with 2011’s Path of Totality, might be loosely described as post-everything. In a fit of what might be described as either extreme ambition or common sense, they’ve taken a huge array of influences and welded them together. If their new album, Savage Gold, can’t convert people to Tombs’ way of thinking, then absolutely nothing will.
Tombs’ approach seems relatively simple. Vocalist Mike Hill and new boy Garrett Bussanick lay down these spare and hypnotic riffs that meander in a borderless land between black metal and post-punk. while Andrew Hernandez pummels the crap out of his drumkit. But it has more than that – it has subtlety and emotion and most importantly, it has fuckloads of quality. The songwriting in particular is highly impressive; Savage Gold manage to somehow feel in your face and part of this far away journey at the same time. This is in no small part down to the fact that Tombs are well served by Erik Rutan’s production work. It’s clear enough to hear everything – listen to new bassist Ben Brand’s riffs in the middle of ‘Edge of Darkness’ – and dirty enough to give the album the bite it deserves.
The album isn’t quite flawless. There’s times when songs could be cut down in length to their advantage, such as the ending of the otherwise excellent ‘Portraits’, or the intriguing channelling of Ian Curtis in ‘Severed Lives’. Yet those are small things compared to the increasing fury of opener ‘Thanatos’, or the ever-so-slightly epic ‘Echoes’, which feature Hill’s by far most complete vocal performance of the album. He sings, he whispers, he growls, he bellows in rage. Throughout Savage Gold, his voice is a fitting accompaniment to the more or less seamless melding of genres. ‘Deathtripper’ carries a sense of alienation that feels very post-punk but it makes perfect sense when it starts sounding like Behemoth instead. As for ‘Ashes’, well, it mainly sounds like no-one else but Tombs.
And sounds like Tombs will become a thing, because this band has a rare gift. Not many bands manage to combine musical brilliance with genuine innovation but it seems to come very easy to Tombs. Here’s to them continuing to show them over a long career – but for now we’ve got Savage Gold. And it’s amazing.
Sounds Like: Black metal with post-punk sensibilities and 80s darkness. But better.
Standout Tracks: Echoes, Deathtripper, Ashes.